Shelby County Remains a Beehive of Political Activity 

The crowd at Bredesen headquarters in the Highland Strip

Jackson Baker

The crowd at Bredesen headquarters in the Highland Strip

The pending visit to The Orpheum on Friday by former Vice President (and possible 2020 presidential candidate) Joe Biden for his "American Promise" tour highlights what continues to be a busy election season.

Republican gubernatorial candidate  Randy Boyd last week underscored the importance of Shelby County in his election campaign by making the county the site of two different stops on his current 95-county bus tour of the state. Boyd kicked off his bus tour in Millington on Monday, and after making several stops elsewhere in West Tennessee, returned to Shelby County on Saturday for a meet-and-greet lunch in the Collierville town square. Among the several Shelby County officials at the affair, either as backers for Boyd or as courtesy visitors, were County Commissioner David Reaves of Bartlett, Mayor Mike Palazzolo of Germantown, Germantown Alderman Mary Ann Gibson, trustee and county mayor candidate David Lenoir, former county Mayor Jim Rout, state Representative Mark White, and, serving as master of ceremonies for the occasion, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

Boyd, who went on to make a day of it in Shelby County, attending the FedEx St. Jude golf tournament and the Germantown Horse Show, noted that he had taken no salary while serving as director for economic development under Governor Bill Haslam. Boyd promised not to do so as governor, either, unless, as he jested, "some of you who have Invisible Fence stop purchasing new batteries, in which case I may need to renegotiate." Boyd, one of several independently wealthy candidates for governor, made his fortune as the inventor and vendor of Invisible Fence, which establishes electronic barriers for domestic pets.  David Weatherspoon, who held the latest version of his "listening tour" at Cheffie's Restaurant on High Point Terrace on Monday, is expecting to get an earful — and maybe a bagful — of support from members of Shelby County's health-care community at a June 26th fund-raiser scheduled for Germantown Country Club.

Among the hosts for the affair are Gary and Glenda Shorb, Meri Armour, Ed Barnett, Richard Glassman and Susan Lawless-Glassman, David and Julie Richardson, Nadeem Shafi, Kip and Martha Frizzell, Charles and Kalyna Hanover, Melody Cunningham, and Michael Rohrer.

Weatherspoon, whose campaign treasurer is Ed Roberson, the erstwhile director of Christ Community Health Centers, has made support for Medicaid expansion ("a no-brainer decision") a key point in his campaign for the District 31 state Senate seat now held by Republican Brian Kelsey (as, for that matter, has Gabby Salinas, the other Democrat running in the forthcoming Democratic primary of August 2nd).

Kelsey is a sworn opponent of former President Obama's Affordable Care Act and its Medicare-expansion component, and was the sponsor of legislation requiring approval by both chambers of the General Assembly's Republican super-majority before expansion could take place, dooming Insure Tennessee, the state's variant of the plan. The rejection, according to Weatherspoon, has cost Tennessee $4 billion in federal funding and contributed to the closure of 10 community hospitals.

• Headquarters Openings: Two candidates drew large crowds for opening new headquarters last week. Democratic county mayor nominee Lee Harris set up at 2127 Central Avenue on Friday, and a Memphis headquarters was established at in the Highland Strip by the campaign of former Governor Phil Bredesen, now a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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